Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
For those who are not fans of "Star Trek" (like me), "Star Trek: Nemesis,"
the tenth in the film series, does nothing to win over non-followers
of the cult phenomenon. The experience of watching it is uninvigorating,
at best, and its cinematic introduction to the 21st-century has not
been kind. Glaringly outdated (save for some nifty visual effects),
"Nemesis" is a monotonously dull slog through worn-out material and
cheesy production values.
As the film begins, first officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has
just married Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and the whole starship Enterprise
crew has reunited for the occasion (past series regulars Whoopi Goldberg
and Wil Wheaton make very brief cameos). It's soon back to business
as usual, however, when an uprising occurs in the Romulan Senate,
and the Enterprise crew--including Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick
Stewart); Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden); Security Officer Worf
(Michael Dorn); Chief Engineer LaForge (LeVar Burton); and android
Commander Data (Brent Spiner)--is dispatched thinking that they are
finally going to make peace. Once reaching Romulus, it becomes apparent
that Shinzon (Tom Hardy), who has taken over the reins of power and
turns out to be a younger clone of Picard, is only interested in destroying
the Federation once and for all.
Directed with little individuality or flair by Stuart Baird (1998's
"U.S. Marshals"), "Star Trek: Nemesis" is a marginal step up from
1998's lame "Star Trek: Insurrection," but a step down from 1996's
"Star Trek: Final Contact." The screenplay by Tom Logan (2002's "The
Time Machine") offers up a few ambitious plot threads (such as the
discovery of Data's long-lost brother "B4" and the notion that the
maniacal Shinzon is a clone of Picard and, therefore, basically forced
to fight himself), but takes far too much time in its set-up. The
first half of "Nemesis" is slow, plodding, and, worst of all, boring.
The second half picks up speed and may shake back to consciousness
those who have nodded off. The action-packed finale, in which the
Enterprise finds their defense shields failing and, in a last-ditch
effort, decide to ram their starship into Shinzon's warship Scimiter,
boasts solid effects editing and even some suspense. Suffering through
the long build-up is simply too steep a price to pay in order to enjoy
the effective last half-hour.
The series regulars could play their roles in their sleep by this
point, and some of them appear to be doing just that. Still, Patrick
Stewart (2000's "X-Men") lends a dignified authoritism to the indomitable
Jean-Luc Picard, and Brent Spiner (2002's "The Master of Disguise")
is charming as Data. As new villain Shinzon, Tom Hardy (2001's "Black
Hawk Down") is quite an arresting find, appropriately nasty but with
a sign of something more in his expressive eyes.
In a time when special effects have nearly reached photorealism and
sci-fi/action pictures continue to get bigger in scope, "Star Trek:
Nemesis" is clear proof that the series has long since surpassed its
days of glory. No longer is it exciting to see people sitting in tacky
command rooms and pushing buttons as their spaceship flies through
space, nor is it satisfying when the story at hand has been constantly
recycled to the point of nausea. Devoted fans may be entertained by
"Star Trek: Nemesis," but I suspect even they may have to grudgingly
admit that it's about time for the Enterprise crew to hang up their
day jobs and return to Earth.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman